Mining Law Summit 2020

New Frontiers in Community Engagement and Sustainable Development of Mineral Resources

How to responsibly develop critical mineral resources that are in high demand in modern society has been explored at the Nov. 6 Mining Law Summit by the University of Arizona Global Mining Law Center.

“New Frontiers in Community Engagement and Sustainable Development of Mineral Resources” went virtual at no cost this year. It featured recorded speakers and interviews coupled with real-time discussions at the all-day event. The fifth edition of the summit was a collaboration of the UArizona James E. Rogers College of Law and Lowell Institute for Mineral Resources.

Attendees examined how getting community buy-in and establishing environmentally sound practices open opportunities to meet the increasing demand for lithium, cobalt, zinc and other metals used in batteries and computers. 

“People don’t really appreciate what needs to be done to keep up that supply,” said John Lacy, director of the Global Mining Law Center. “What (the summit) does is to provide a good overview for perhaps smaller companies that don’t have the resources and personnel to properly address some of these issues.”

The subject matter also would help executives at larger mining companies make sure these concepts are practiced at the operational level. Topics focused on the need to work with communities adjacent to mining operations, special-interest groups and governments to successfully develop a resource, as well as provide tools to implement such activity.

Summit discusses responsible mining standards

Companies ought to examine the question, “What do you really need to do in terms of due diligence in looking at the areas where the metals will be produced?” Lacy said. In particular, the late-morning session on responsible mining “is certainly one of the more important elements,” he added.

In her video presentation, Aimee Boulanger, executive director for the Initiative for Responsible Mining Assurance (IRMA), focused on the concept. “Consumers, communities, nonprofit groups and government seek transparency related to the environmental and social impacts associated with mining,” Boulanger explained in a separate interview, “and expect more responsible practices that reduce harm.” IRMA has put together global standards for meeting these expectations. The voluntary initiative covers such issues as legal compliance, human rights, resettlement, emergency response, fair labor, protection of cultural heritage assets and environmental management. Strong laws and regulation are best suited to address accountability between mining companies and the communities where operations are done. “When the market and public opinion are moving faster than policy changes,” she said, “voluntary initiatives and certification can set an example and template that supports legal reform.”

The other topics for the summit are

Each topic was followed by a live audience discussion. Because each presenter’s portion was individually recorded, it can be used in related global mining law courses, said Lacy. The entire summit also will be recorded for later, on-demand viewing.

Link to the recording


Midnight to 11:50 p.m. Nov. 6, 2020

Event Contacts

John Lacy